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December 21st, 2016

The Greatest Rivalries Of The Dakar Rally

Motorsports are not just risky, but they are also deeply intense experiences for the mind and the body alike. The one thing that runs common through every racer is their untameable hunger to win and to beat everyone else on the track. Each racer looks at another as a rival that needs to be beaten and to show that they are better than the rest. All this intensity and desire to win can lead to some rivalries that are worth talking about. These greatest rivalries of the Dakar rally men sprout among racer that can equally match each other in terms of unmatched talents and sheer will to win. These rivalries also define the history and the fame of their respective motorsport. With the 2016 Dakar Rally almost here, we look back at its greatest rivalries in awe and respect.

Hubert Auriol Vs Gaston Rahier

It was the year 1984 and back in those times the race was known as Paris-Algiers-Dakar Rally. This was the year when the first truly great rivalry of the iconic rally came into existence, when the defending champion Hubert Auriol was challenged by Gaston Rahier. Auriol had won the prestige race in 1981 and 1983 and he was riding a BMW GS 980 R in 1984. His rival, Rahier, was a formidable opponent what his incredible legacy of 1975, 1976 and 1977 125cc motocross world championships. In 1984 Auriol had won eight stages while Rahier came on top spot in just three. Still,Rahier, a diminutive Belgian, with his much greater consistency took the overall victory in the 1984 Paris-Algiers-Dakar Rally. A motivated and eager to win again Auriol tired fighting back hard the following year, but an unfortunate issue with his bike meant he had to witness Rahier’s second and the last Dakar victory.

 Hubert Auriol 1981 Dakar Rally

Stéphane Peterhansel Vs Jordi Arcarons

Enduro rider Stéphane Peterhansel attempted the rally in 1988 for the first time. But it was since 1991, when he rode for the Yamaha works team, his winning streak became a story of domination for almost a decade. However, his biggest rival arrived in the form of Jordi Arcarons who led the Cagiva Team through the Dakar. Jordi managed to trouble Peterhansel through every single stage of the rally. Jordi’s speed and consistency were brilliant, still, he lost to Danny Laporte in the end and had to settle for second position. Come 1993, the fight between Jordi and Peterhansel intensified, where Jordi managed to take six stage wins against Peterhansel, still Peterhansel went on to win his third Dakar rally. In 1995, In a controversial event, Jordi had blamed that Peterhansel received outside help to repair his rear wheel, this saw Peterhansel get penalized. However, the controversy and the penalty did not really affect Peterhansel as he went on to win the rally again.

Jordi Arcarons


It was not just intense rivalries among racers at the Dakar that was worth noting, there was also the epic rivalry between BMW and KTM for the top honours in the late 90’s that was worth its weight in gold. BMW had only returned to Dakar in 1998 after a decade of absence however, it started to show some results only since 1999. This new team was much stronger with the presence of incredible race bikes prepared by Richard Schalber and ridden by Andrea Mayer, Edi Orioli, Jean Brucy and Oscar Gallardo and Richard Sainct. The moment Sainct arrived; he led the team to an overall victory against the might of the Austrian company, KTM. And this doesn’t end here, two years later in, 2001 BMW went on to decimate the KTM by claiming the first four positions. KTM did not like it one bit, and in 2002 they added Sainct and Jean Brucy to their squad to beat BMW. And they did that just fine with an astounding one-two-three finish. The world loved the rivalry between the German and the Austrian brands; however, in 2002 BMW Motorrad pulled out of the Dakar Rally and ever since KTM has been on an otherworldly dominant streak at the Dakar.

KTM Dakar Rally Bike

Nani Roma Vs Fabrizio Meoni

Nani Roma, had been on the verge of winning the rally on a number of occasions, however, he always fell short. During the 2002 edition, Roma was trailing Fabrizio Meoni by just 3 minutes. However, an unfortunate lapse in staying on the right path and the subsequent effort to get back on the right track left Noma exhausted and out of contention. However, in 2004 he finally tasted success and won the Dakar finally. He had beaten Dakar legends like Sainct and Desperes to win and become the first ever Spaniard to win at Dakar.

Nani Roma

Marc Coma Vs Cyril Despres

The best, the biggest and the longest running yet rivalry among motorcycle racers at Dakar was without any doubt between the legends that Marc Coma and Cyril Despres are. Both, Coma and Despres intensely rivalled each other for more than a decade at Dakar. In this duration, both scored five victories each for their fellow countries, France and Spain. Interestingly, it was probably also the most leveled field in terms of machinery and the conditions, both racers only had their own racing craft and skill, form and the luck that separated them. Both, Coma and Despres rode KTM’s throughout this time, it was only for a year when Depres raced for Yamaha that the two legends fought on separate machinery. Despres won the Dakar Rally in the years 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013. On the other hand, Marc Coma took victories at Dakar in 2006, 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2015. Without any doubt heirs is truly the greatest rivalry in Dakar history.

 Marc Coma

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